On This Body

Mother Earth Odjig
Mother Earth, Daphne Odjig

Eyes like a growling. Eyes like a treasure box. Storefront reflection, candid photograph, inverted glint on spectacle glass.

Eyes tethering me to corporeality.

They write their stories on my body. Make their confessions on my body. Cast the runes and decode the signs and plan their fortune on my body. Ink the map of their nightmares on my body. X the spot of their rescue on my body.

Eyes pressing in. Crawling under skin.

They carve their prayers into the hinge of my hip. Tow their fathers along the canal of my throat. Read their script of frustrations in the braille of my pores. Drill into vein and tap the ichor and call it elixir and call it theirs.

Brand the symbol of their nation into my neck. Cut away the foliage and rip loose the topsoil. Clear their path. Claim their sweep. Make their eyes king of my scalped and trepanned skull.

Nail their street names over the native songlines of my body. Bore their trenches through the weathered hills of my body. Pierce the bone, suck the marrow. Leave the leaks unpatched.

What I’ve stored, what I’ve grown, the snap pea, the honeycomb. What has made itself by deep cycles I never presumed to control. The wetlands, the watering hole. The dragonfly bending cattail, the frog flinging itself from bank to bubble. A pitcher plant at the edge of light, offering up its lethal jewel of dew.

The rank and teeming ecosystem of this body.

Their eyes come. With buckets and shovels, they come. Their hands too (let’s be fair) working smooth the mud of my body. Kneading the wet bowl of my body. All this before the plunder, before pressing fingers deeper than any invitation, deeper than even I descend. Into the warrens of my body I choose to keep dark, they try to make their way in.

But not today.

Spring fills this skin’s sail and carries me whole out over the slow churning lake of the morning. Their thirst like salt skims my tongue. A taste but only that. I seek my own channel and lay a dam of shadows across the mouth. Let fester and aerate the still, dark, rank floor of my body. Let populate the algae and amoeba, let blossom the eggs on the aquatic fronds of my body.

This body finds her own fissures and slips on her slick depths. Maybe works its way down along hidden rivers. Maybe finds the whole of the ocean. The whole of the world, for whom this body splits open. To which this body belongs.


Image: Daphne Odjig, “Mother Earth”

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